Kia reveals new clutch-by-wire manual gearbox for 48-volt mild hybrids

New manual Kia gearbox removes mechanical clutch for greater efficiency and CO2 reductions

Kia has revealed a new manual gearbox using an electronic linkage for the clutch, rather than a mechanical system, which has been designed for use in the brand’s next fleet of 48-volt mid hybrid cars. 

The system, called intelligent manual transmission (iMT), promises to cut CO2 emissions and boost fuel economy, while the company claims it retains a natural, mechanical clutch pedal feel.

The iMT works alongside the belt driven starter-generator integrated into the powertrain as part of the 48-volt mild hybrid system. Using a system like it means that the stop-start system can cut in to switch the engine off at higher speeds, allowing for longer periods of engineless coasting. 

The chosen gear remains engaged and the clutch opens even with the engine off, so the engine can restart seamlessly in drive when the driver touches the accelerator pedal at the end of a coasting period. The 48-volt system can bring the engine speed instantly back to the correct revs, but if the car has slowed too much and engine speed is too low to resume in the same gear, it can restart the engine in neutral - something it also does if the clutch pedal is pressed.

Kia says the iMT possesses the same operation feel and engagement as a traditional mechanical gearbox, and even has greater controllability of the clutch’s biting point thanks to electrical management. 

The iMT is being launched on Kia models with the new ‘Smartstream’ 48-volt mild hybrid powertrains. The first car to get it will be the latest Ceed in 1.6 CRDi diesel mild hybrid form. It’s also coming to the newly facelifted Rio in 1.0-litre T-GDi petrol form, with more models to receive the iMT transmission later in 2020. 

Do you think Kia's new manual gearbox is a good idea? Let us know your thoughts below...

Recommended

“Why rivals don’t ‘borrow’ Kia’s successful business model is beyond me”
Opinion - Kia
Kia

“Why rivals don’t ‘borrow’ Kia’s successful business model is beyond me”

Kia’s sales success in the UK is no surprise to Mike Rutherford, who predicted the Korean brand’s rise ten years ago
17 Apr 2022
New 2023 Kia EV9 confirmed for the UK
Kia Concept EV9 - front
Kia

New 2023 Kia EV9 confirmed for the UK

The production version of the Kia Concept EV9 will sit at the top of the brand’s all-electric range and will go on sale in the UK next year
29 Mar 2022
Kia gears up to launch 14 new electric cars by 2027
Kia EV plan
Kia

Kia gears up to launch 14 new electric cars by 2027

Kia has announced its plans to transform into a ‘leading sustainable mobility solutions provider’ by the year 2030
3 Mar 2022
Kia to go EV-only in 2035 and become carbon neutral by 2045
Kia EV6 front tracking
Kia

Kia to go EV-only in 2035 and become carbon neutral by 2045

Kia has big eco plans that include ditching combustion power completely and, eventually, launching a new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle
11 Nov 2021

Most Popular

Best electric cars to buy 2022
Best electric cars
Electric cars

Best electric cars to buy 2022

There are more electric cars than ever to choose from, so we've picked some of the best you can buy in the UK now
28 Apr 2022
“Mid-sized electric cars are way beyond the financial reach of most mums and dads”
Opinion - electric car prices
Opinion

“Mid-sized electric cars are way beyond the financial reach of most mums and dads”

Mike Rutherford thinks the industry needs to face the fact that a lot of people can’t afford a brand new factory-fresh car
16 May 2022
Tipo 184: on the road in the Mazda MX-5 based kit car
Tipo 184 kit car front
Features

Tipo 184: on the road in the Mazda MX-5 based kit car

Inspired by classic Grand Prix racing cars, Darren Collins has created a model that faithfully recreates the originals, but with a twist - it’s actual…
11 May 2022